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Data Center Manager Asks: Is IT Automation A Best-Of-Breed Or Single-Vendor Game?

After we ran our article on <a href="http://www.informationweek.com/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=201201650">how data center automation is changing</a>, I exchanged e-mail with Robert Yale, a key leader of the data center team for the Vanguard Group, one of the largest mutual fund companies. The biggest piece he thought missing from the article: Discussion of best of breed versus single vendor strategy. His thoughts:

Chris Murphy

August 8, 2007

2 Min Read

After we ran our article on how data center automation is changing, I exchanged e-mail with Robert Yale, a key leader of the data center team for the Vanguard Group, one of the largest mutual fund companies. The biggest piece he thought missing from the article: Discussion of best of breed versus single vendor strategy. His thoughts:Yale's in the best-of-breed camp. The company has a product from one vendor for monitoring and incident management, tools for provisioning software from others, and is in the process of installing an auto-discovery tool that needs to integrate with software from yet another vendor.

The spark for our IT automation article was Hewlett-Packard's acquisition of Opsware, and BMC's buy of RealOps. As automation of more functions becomes feasible, companies naturally want to offer a broader sweep of capabilities, all from one vendor. What Yale would most like to see is the various vendors making it easier to integrate the products.

Things appear to be moving that way. Vendors are making progress making automation products easier to integrate, says Michael Tainter, who, as practice director for IT infrastructure integrator Forsythe, works directly with companies trying to automate data centers. Tainter, whom I interviewed for the automation article, notes that many IT teams aren't just looking to automate IT; they're focused on improving a service in ways that provide measurable value to a business unit, and automation's looking like an increasingly feasible way to improve reliability while lowering costs. As departments improve and document their IT practices, using tools such as ITIL , it also becomes easier and more practical to automate those practices.

All those factors are at play at Vanguard. Says Yale: "The maturity of the tools is now making the automation much more feasible, and I believe the tool side of automation and the process excellence side of automation (ITIL, for example) go hand in hand and, done well, will continue to make data centers move closer to the 'lights out' goal."

Thanks to Robert Yale for his insight on the topic. We want to this forum to be a place where IT leaders drive the discussion.

So what are your thoughts on IT automation: Best of breed, or single vendor?

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About the Author(s)

Chris Murphy

Editor, InformationWeek

Chris Murphy is editor of InformationWeek and co-chair of the InformationWeek Conference. He has been covering technology leadership and CIO strategy issues for InformationWeek since 1999. Before that, he was editor of the Budapest Business Journal, a business newspaper in Hungary; and a daily newspaper reporter in Michigan, where he covered everything from crime to the car industry. Murphy studied economics and journalism at Michigan State University, has an M.B.A. from the University of Virginia, and has passed the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exams.

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